Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric
Termeh is a fine handmade fabric that is made of two strands of woven yarn, the warp and the weft. The weft is usually woven more loosely than the warp. Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric is mostly made of wool or silk and decorated with traditional Iranian motifs.
Weaving Termeh dates back to the beginning of Safavid era (16th century) in Iran. Of course some believe that Termeh originated in central Asia and mostly in Kashmir Mountains and some others believe that it originated in Iran and was later transferred to Kashmir. What is known for a fact is that Iranians have a special taste in designing motifs and patterns for this fine fabric. The art of Weaving Termeh reached its peak during Abbas Shah of Safavid Dynasy; it turned to be one of the most important export products of Iran and became widely known in the world.
Steps in Weaving Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric
The first step to weave Termeh is to provide the raw material. Termeh is usually made of wool or silk. White wool, however, is the most common because it can be dyed into different colors. Termeh wool must be of fine quality and must be longer in length. Wool from the sheep in Iran has such quality and is, to a large extent, white and shining. Spinning, twisting, dyeing and weaving the wool progressed a great deal in 16th century Iran. Shah Abbas Safavi invited designers from China and Armenia to teach their methods to Iranian artists. That is why Termeh designs became stunning during Safavid period.
A)Washing the Wool:
The first step after obtaining good quality wool is to wash the wool clean of dirt and fat. This should be done before dyeing the wool. In Iran before shearing, the sheep are washed with water for about ten minutes, then the fat is washed from the fleece by washing it in Alkali and again the fleece is rinsed in water. In this way it turns clean and shining.
B) Bleaching the Wool:
There are two methods to bleach the fleece.
The first method: the fleece is spread on grass. In this way it will absorb the dew and in the process of its evaporation the fleece turns white. This process is carried out several times.
The second method:
The fleece is whitened using sulfate.
C) Fixing the Color:
When the fleece is white enough, it is dyed, and this is one of the most important steps in preparing the wool for Termeh. Since the colors which are used directly on the wool do not endure much, a material called Dandaneh is used in order to solve this problem. Dandaneh is a chemical which can increase the absorption of color. This chemical needs to be purified before it is used so that it functions better. The most frequently used types of Dandaneh include: White alum, tin, zinc, chlorine, lead and other sulfates, minerals, etc.
D) Dyeing with Plant Based Colors
The colors of Iranian Termeh are usually extracted from plants. These colors may be obtained from the roots, trunks, leaves, flowers, fruits husks or trunk of plants. This is because Termeh is a fabric which is very difficult to maintain, it is easily damaged by moisture and moth.
Different types of Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric are as follows:
- Charghad Shawl: the size is 1.5 in 1.5 and it is used as a head cover or a wrapping cloth; the motif is either medallion design – Corner or flowers.
- Striped Shawl: comes in two types:
Depending on people’s tastes they can be used by anyone.
- Atabaki Shawl: Cashmere type; it is made of very fine wool.
- Bandi Shawl: the pattern resembles bee hives; in each hole there is a flower or a paisley woven.
- Moharramat Shawl: it is a kind of striped shawl with different size stripes
- Cashemre Shawl: various Cashmere weaving types; best known ones are: paisley, tree and deer horns designs.
- Emerald Shawl: finest Cashmere shawl with indigo background on which paisley motifs are woven in sharp colors especially in emerald green
- Kerman Shawl: any Termeh shawl woven in Kerman province; they come in different types
- Amiri Shawl: As the name shows (Amiri meaning courtly), this type includes the Termeh shawls used in courts by courtiers; they are usually designed with paisley or gazelle-horn patterns
- Yazdi Shawl: any Termeh shawl woven in Yazd province which are usually striped or designed with Shah Abbassi flowers; this type is very old and rare.
Tools and Methods Of Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric
Termeh weaving machine, similar to most traditional waving machines, is made of wood. This machine is usually made by artists themselves. Termeh machine has four levels (chahar Verdi) and each level is controlled and moved by a separate pedal. Before the weaving starts, the machine needs to be prepared and the vertical threads, or warps, need to be fixed on the machine (called Chelleh-keshi in Farsi). Then the artist sits at the machine and her/his assistant control the top part of the machine. The assistant’s job is to choose the threads and their colors. The motifs woven on Termeh are the result of the cooperation between the artist or the master and her/his assistant.
Weaving Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric is not an easy job. On traditional machines, weaving this fine fabric can take a long time and needs dexterous hands and much precision. Using traditional machines about 20 to 25 centimeters of fine Termeh can be woven per day (in about 8 hours of work). With Jacquard machine, which does the job of the assistant, Termeh production can increase to 100 centimeters per day. One of the most difficult things that a Termeh weaver must do is to select the right colors which are in harmony with each other. This is especially hard because the artist can select the horizontal line colors only (wefts), as the vertical lines (warps), which actually shape the background, are fixed on the machine, and cannot be altered, whether in shape or in color. So the motifs woven on the fabric are shaped through changes in the color of the horizontal lines only.
Another important issue in weaving Termeh is using threads in different sizes and how to place these threads. Since the color of the warps (vertical treads) is stable and it is only the wefts which change color, weaving this fabric and forming the motifs can be very difficult.
There is another method of weaving which is not very common. In this method the colorful wefts are not the main parts of the fabric, which means if the weft is removed the fabric does not fall apart, only the core weft appears from underneath. Most Cashmere shawls are woven in a way that the loose part of the weft is woven into the fabric and no loose threads can be seen on the back of the woven Termeh. However, in Kerman Shawl loose threads can be seen on the back side of the fabric. Khorasan and Yazd shawls are also the same.
Colors and Sources Of Termeh Luxury Persian Fabric
Orange Common Madder: Red, purple
Henna leaf: Red, brown, dark blue
Mulberry root: yellow
Walnut tree bark: brown
Pomegranate husk: brown
Red Oak bark: brownish red
Poppy husk: brown
Sumac leaf: brown
Apple tree bark: yellow
One of the most important tasks of a weaver is to select the right colors which are in harmony with each other. These colors might be chosen from the same shade or they might be complementary colors.
Termeh had a variety of uses in the past, including making fine clothes for courtiers and noble men and women, curtains, praying rugs, wedding gifts and so on. Today, Termeh is used in furniture, backrest pillows, and tablecloths. Termeh was used in the past been mostly by kings and nobles but today it is used mostly by the middle and upper class. It is usually presented as a gift for weddings, and formal and family ceremonies.